Today's phones and tablets store and transmit a tremendous amount of sensitive information. Along with any information that is stored locally, devices like these also have access to data that is stored in the cloud and the installed apps.

Security precautions are essential when it comes to these types of handheld devices. Your personal information could be at risk if your device is hacked or if it falls into the wrong hands. Data can be stolen through unprotected Wi-Fi networks or unsafe connections. Your device can also physically be stolen, meaning that all of your information is taken along with it. To ensure that your data stay safe, implement these seven security tips:

1. Don't Transmit Sensitive Data over Open Networks

Free Wi-Fi connections are available just about everywhere today, from your local coffee shop to major airports. While having access is convenient, these networks are almost always unprotected. That isn't a problem if you are just browsing the web. However, it can pose a serious risk if you are transferring sensitive information, logging into your bank account, or performing other actions involving personal data. Err on the side of caution and use your phone's data plan any time you are doing something sensitive on your device.

If you are using public Wi-Fi, make sure you use a VPN to keep yourself secure. The best Android VPNs will encrypt your connections to keep your information safe.

2. Keep Your Operating System And Apps Up To Date

App and operating system updates are often designed to address security-related problems. To protect your device, keep your OS and your apps up-to-date by installing all of the latest updates.

3. Prevent Unauthorized Access With A Screen Lock

Under the security settings on your device, there are several different screen locking methods available. Whether you use a pin, a specific swiping pattern, or an advanced option like fingerprint recognition, adding a screen lock can help keep people from accessing your device without your permission.

4. Install A Locator App

Safeguard your investment by adding an app to your device that helps you locate it if it is lost. There are quite a few apps out there that fall into this category, meaning that you should be able to easily find one that meets your needs.

5. Don't Jailbreak Your Device

If you want to install third-party apps on your device, you typically will need to “jailbreak” it. Modifying the operating system like this can interfere with its built-in security features, which could put your phone or tablet at risk.

6. Don't Download Apps From Unknown Sources

Any apps that you install on your device should come from highly-respected sources. Choose apps that are not only created by well-known developers but that also have been downloaded and installed many times.

7. Take Advantage Of The Security Tools Offered By Your Wireless Company

Today's phone carriers have many security features and tools available for their customers. The Verizon Family Safeguards And Controls, for instance, give you complete control over the security of your family's devices.

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